Smith Act

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Smith Act,

1940, passed by the U.S. Congress as the Alien Registration Act of 1940. The act, which made it an offense to advocate or belong to a group that advocated the violent overthrow of the government, was the basis of later prosecutions of members of the Communist and Socialist Workers parties. In 1957 the U.S. Supreme Court restricted the application of the Smith Act to instances of active participation in, or verbal encouragement of, specific insurrectionary activities.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Smith Act


(also Alien Registration Act), an act passed by the Congress of the USA on June 28, 1940; named for H. Smith, the congressman who introduced the measure. The Smith Act made it a crime to advocate or teach the duty, necessity, or propriety of overthrowing the government by force or violence. When the act was passed it was assumed that it would be used against agents of fascist governments in the USA. However, after World War II (1939–45) it was used against members of the Communist Party. From 1948 to 1955 the Smith Act, along with the McCarran Act of 1950 and other antidemocratic laws, was used as the grounds for 18 trials of leaders of the Communist Party. Many of them were sentenced to long terms in prison solely on the basis of their Marxist views. In 1957 the Supreme Court of the USA set limits to the range of application of the Smith Act. [23–1830–]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Smith Act, also known as the Alien Registration Act, required non-US citizens to register with the government and refused entry to anyone who was associated with the Communist Party abroad.
The Alien Registration Act, also known as the Smith Act, was passed by Congress.
Kennedy was inundated with letters demanding executive clemency for Junius Irving Scales, the only person ever to have gone to jail solely for the crime, under the membership clause of the Smith Act, of being a member of the Communist Party.
Passed in June of 1940, the Smith Act was a peacetime anti-sedition law that criminalized advocacy of disloyalty in the armed forces and of the overthrow of the government by force.
The personal details of their lives, gleaned from memoirs and other family documents, remind us that the social and political persecution hedged by the 1940 Smith Act were perpetrated on, and by, real people.
v United States, in which five Communist Party USA leaders' Smith Act convictions were eventually reversed, is a microcosm of the federal government's campaign against American Communists in the 1950s, in the view of author Birdnow (history, McKendree College and Saint Louis U.).
Then he got religion and wrote a book, False Witness, recanting his testimony and charging, among other things, that Roy Cohn got him to perjure himself as a witness in one of the Smith Act trials.
The easy explanation, of course, is that we fell victim to the wily misrepresentations and repressive machinations of American capitalism and its obedient servant, the State, which deprived the Wobblies of their free-speech rights and locked Gene Debs away in the Atlanta penitentiary and smashed radical organizations in the Palmer Raids and mounted a great Red Scare after World War I and another after World War II, invoking the Smith Act and the FBI's COINTELPRO program.
This view led Frankfurter to join six of his fellow justices in upholding the Smith Act, which made it a crime to teach communist doctrine (Black and William O.
At trial, Cannon and 17 others were convicted of oseditious conspiracyo under the Smith Act, which President Roosevelt had signed into law in 1940.